This year marks the ninth anniversary of the Dallas Mavericks’ remarkable run to capture the organization’s only NBA title. Our television partners at Fox Sports Southwest are re-airing the 16 victories that the Mavericks earned en route to the 2011 title. They started Wednesday with Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against Portland. On Saturday, the ride continues with Games 5 and 6. After losing twice in Portland to even the series, things got very interesting.
We at Mavs.com will provide our own look-back at those games, giving readers a primer for the re-broadcasts of the games..
The Mavericks’ roadster cruised through the opening two games at home in the first round playoff series against Portland.
Then the wheels came off on a bumpy ride in the Pacific Northwest.
Hey, nobody said the road to the NBA’s ultimate paradise wouldn’t have a few potholes. But at least it wasn’t completely closed for repairs.
The Trail Blazers found new life in the creaky, old legs of Brandon Roy, who had led a 23-point comeback in Game 4 that was nothing short of horrific for the Mavericks. They had not won in Portland during the regular season and now had lost two playoff games there.
It was becoming clear how important it would be to take care of business in Game 5 as the best-of-seven series returned to Dallas. The Mavericks and Blazers had played eight times in 2010-11 as the series returned to American Airlines Center. The home team had won all eight times.
The Mavericks would make it nine with their Game 5 win.. Then they would finally break the home-court dominance in Game 6 in Portland.
But it was a wild trip getting there.
GAME 5: Mavericks 93, Blazers 82
Sometimes, a golfer bricks a 2-foot putt.
Then it gets in his head. And if the player doesn’t have a short memory, the yips can sabotage his entire game.
The Mavericks had the task of forgetting about Game 4. It was nothing short of a disaster. They were up by 23 points, 67-44, with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
But from the final minute of the third quarter until the end of the game, Brandon Roy would score 20 of the Blazers’ 40 points and the Mavericks would score just 15. It definitely was a gimme that got away.
Somehow, the Mavericks had to recover in a hurry. The NBA playoffs are long and arduous. But they wait for nobody.
So to rebound, the Mavericks turned to their emotional sparkplug – Tyson Chandler – and a grizzled veteran who had been through this sort of tough time before – Jason Kidd.
Kidd had been on the New Jersey Nets’ team that blew a 20-plus-point lead in the fourth quarter to Boston in 2002, but recovered to make the NBA finals.
As Kidd said: “It was a great learning experience because it brought us together.”
Still, they would rather have not gone through it.
Kidd knew what the Mavericks were facing and responded with a 14-assist game, controlling the tempo and the Mavericks’ focus.
Chandler? He wound up with 14 points and 20 rebounds. Just as importantly, he was the aggressive, tone-setting fuse that lit the Mavericks’ bomb that would blow up in the Blazers’ faces.
Dirk Nowitzki said “he’s got to be active for us, and he knows that – hyping the crowd, being vocal in the huddle. That’s what he’s been doing for us all year. If he keeps playing like that, with energy, we’ll be OK.”
Equally important was the way the Mavericks pinned down Roy. He went from his 24-point explosion in Game 4 to just five points in 26 minutes in Game 5. He had double knee surgery during the season. And the Mavericks didn’t let him beat them twice.
“Brandon Roy was kind of thrown into the mix at the last minute,” Shawn Marion said this week while looking back on the 2011 playoffs. “He was battling injuries most of the year. He gave them a spark, for sure. But we were able to refocus and do what we had to do.”
The Mavericks made sure there was no repeat of their meltdown in Game 4. They moved the lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter, when they never led by fewer than 10.
It was a much-needed momentum boost heading into Game 6 back in Portland.
GAME 6: Mavericks 103, Blazers 96
It would be easy to say that the Game 4 collapse was a rallying point for the Mavericks and the way they responded to it was the galvanizing point for this team.
But really, it was more of a re-affirmation.
This team knew who it was and what was at stake.
“I think we were already bonded together,” Marion said. “We were focused because we were all locked in and knew our window wasn’t that big for a lot of us. It was slim. There wasn’t a lot of basketball life left for some of us.”
That’s true. Marion, Kidd, Peja Stojakovic and role players like Brian Cardinal knew their careers were closer to over than just starting.
So they turned things around after Game 4. They took care of business at home, then went to Portland, where they had lost four times in 2019-20 (twice in the regular season, twice in the playoffs), and got that monkey off their backs.
They outscored the Blazers 56-35 in the second and third quarters. Yet their lead was only 86-85 midway through the fourth.
Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge were in attack mode and it took clutch baskets by Kidd, Jason Terry and Marion for the Mavericks to push the lead back to 95-89. When Dirk Nowitzki closed out the game with a string of free throws, the Mavericks finally had a win in Portland and were moving on to the conference semifinals.
“It’s definitely big for our confidence to win a road game in the playoffs,” Nowitzki said after closing out the series. “We haven’t done it for a while so we definitely needed one. In this league, if you have a chance to close out a team, you always want to go for it. This was kind of our Game 7.”
After dispensing of the pesky Blazers, the Mavericks knew who their next challenge would come from: the big, bad Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers were the No. 2 seed in the West playoffs but like the Mavericks, they needed six games to get out of the first round, besting New Orleans to move on.